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The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

Veteran politicians: A legacy of leadership or a relic of the past?

The White House via Wikimedia Commons
President Biden hosts Senate majority leader Schumer, Senate minority leader McConnell, Speaker McCarthy, and Leader Jeffries in the Oval Office to discuss the need to ensure America does not default on its debt on May 16.

Over the years, politicians have remained in office until they were unable to continue working. Politicians like President Biden and Mitch McConnell have recently been brought into question on whether they are still capable of performing their duties as elected officials. 

Should there be an age limit for elected officials? Should there be term limits for the Senate and House? I think we need both!

Since the start of his presidency, President Biden has had his capability to hold office called into question on multiple occasions. During speeches, President Biden, 80, has been known to stumble over his words and repeat himself. He has also had falls that could have resulted in serious injury, such as tripping and falling over a sandbag this June during the Air Force Academy commencement ceremony.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has appeared to freeze up multiple times during his speeches as a result of a concussion from a fall in March, according to his doctors. The first time was over the summer, during a conference on Capitol Hill. The most recent was when McConnell was speaking with reporters in his home state of Kentucky on Aug. 30. 

When McConnell, 81, was asked a question about if he would seek re-election during an appearance in Kentucky, he seemingly froze for about seven seconds. When approached by his staff, he didn’t seem to immediately respond. Once McConnell signaled that he was ready for another question, his aide loudly repeated the question into his ear.

President Biden was first elected to the Senate in 1972. He was 30 years old when he was sworn into office. Mitch McConnell was first elected to the Senate in 1984, where he has spent seven terms and remains in office to this day. Both are examples of elected officials remaining in office for more than 30 years and past the age of 70. But Biden and McConnell aren’t the only ones who fit in this category.

In November 2022, California senator, Diane Feinstein, reached 30 years in the Senate. She was planning to retire at the end of her term on January 3, 2025. She died before her term ended on Sept. 29, at the age of 90. Chuck Grassley is now the oldest US Senator at 90 years old.

Between both the Senate and the House of Representatives, there are currently around twenty elected officials who are over the age of 80. 

Elected officials are in their positions to better our daily lives. They shouldn’t be using their offices to prioritize themselves. So how can we put a stop to that? How can we limit the ways that members of Congress can use their positions to benefit themselves?

We should have established term limits for the Senate and the House of Representatives. Members of the Senate should be limited to two, six-year long terms (12 years in total), and members of the House of Representatives should be limited to three, two-year long terms (six years in total). This will limit the power of those officials and hinder them from using their positions for a lifetime of personal gain.

There should be an age limit of 70 or 75 for the President, Senate, and House of Representatives. This would limit the number of elected officials facing health and competency issues brought on by old age. 

By no means does this mean that everyone over the age of 70 or 75 is incapable of being in an elected position. My grandparents are both over the age of 70, and either one of them would do a fantastic job in an elected position. There are also people under 70 who are not healthy enough to perform well in an elected position.

Voters have expressed wanting to see term and age limits. Only the future can tell if these changes will be implemented or not.

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